University boasts four percent increase
Special to Delta Business Journal
Photography by Rory Doyle
The unofficial numbers, as of Sept. 8, were 2,763 undergraduate students and 824 graduate students, for a total enrollment of 3,587. This is an approximate four percent increase over the previous year’s enrollment.
The increase is due in part to institutional efforts focused on recruitment and retention, says Delta State University President William N. LaForge
“Recruitment and retention work together. Bringing in new students is very important, and we are doing a much better job at that, as evidenced by the numbers,” says LaForge. “We have an increase of approximately four percent this fall, which is great news for the university. We will continue to guide our students on a path to success.”
LaForge says the Office of Admissions and individual academic units deserve credit for their never-ending recruitment efforts, while Academic Affairs and the Student Success Center have spearheaded the retention efforts.
“This is the third year of increased enrollment following eight years of decline,” adds LaForge. “We should be proud of that fact, but not let off the pedal. We need to continue to recruit and continue to keep students here. These numbers show that we are a university of choice, and they also show that there’s programming here that’s appealing to our students.”
Recently, the university doubled its staff specifically devoted to recruiting community college and transfer students, an area LaForge says should keep Delta State’s enrollment on the rise.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles McAdams says the focus on retention will continue for the long term.
“Our retention efforts are essential to help students stay on the right path to complete their degree,” says McAdams. “Helping students stay on the right path helps them achieve their career goals, and it helps Delta State grow its enrollment so we can provide expanded opportunities to all of our students.”
“It is easy to underestimate the challenges many of our students face in their transition from high school to college, or in their transition from a community college to a university,” adds McAdams. “Some students may struggle with academics, while others may struggle with financial, personal or emotional challenges. We have a series of initiatives in place specifically designed to identify and help students facing these transitional challenges. I am hopeful that as these initiatives progress, our enrollment and positive impact on students will continue to increase.”
Marked growth has been seen in a number of majors across campus, including programs where Delta State continues to attract and retain students through its offering of unique and specialized programs.
“We continue to see growth and increased interest in our nursing programs,” says Dr. Vicki Bingham, dean of the Robert E. School of Nursing. “We continue to have more qualified applicants to the SON than we can accept. We’ve also seen an increase in RN to BSN applicants, and we anticipate the number of applicants to increase in future years. The SON offers a quality education at an affordable rate, which is why we are able to draw such a large number of students.”
Tricia Walker, director of the Delta Music Institute, says that program has also experienced significant growth over the past few years.
“Thanks to the hard work of the DMI faculty and staff, the fantastic DSU recruiters, and the support of the administration, DMI reached a big goal this year of having 100 majors enrolled in our entertainment industry studies program. We are packed and we like it that way,” says Walker.
Additionally, an exciting achievement by Delta State this year is a major uptick in the number of international students.
According to Dr. Christy Riddle, executive director of the Student Success Center, there are 128 international students attending this fall, doubling the amount enrolled three years ago.
“It’s so gratifying to see how quickly our international student population is growing,” says Riddle. “International students bring additional perspectives and diversity to campus, and we look forward to their contributions across campus. We look forward to even more international students in the years to come.”